God's Covenants With Us

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(Matthew 6, Malachi 3, 2 Corinthians 9)
Lesson Number: 



Lesson 2

God’s Covenants With Us

(Matthew 6, Malachi 3, 2 Corinthians 9)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Romans chapter 5 repeatedly refers to our righteousness before God as a gift. In case we were confused about what “gift” means, it is repeatedly referred to as a “free gift.” See, e.g. Romans 5:17. Yet some continue to ask “What does accepting the gift require that we do?” It would not be a “free” gift if it required that we do anything. There are, however, two closely related issues. The practical question is whether we want the gift? Many people would not accept a free gift of gym membership because they understand the purpose of a gym. Many people do not want eternal life in a Kingdom ruled by God. Thus a reasonable question is this: “Do you really want the free gift of eternal life in an earth made new?” Asking whether you really desire a gift does not change the fact that it is free. The second related question is our study this week. Why does God command us to do (or not do) certain things? Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Making Your Bed is Not Your First Task
    1. Read Matthew 6:33. What are we to seek first each day? (“The Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”)
      1. What do you think this means? (Do first the things that advance God’s kingdom. Since righteousness is a free gift, Jesus’ direction that we seek it would mean to act consistently with a righteous life.)
      2. The advice to young people that the first thing they should do each day is to make their bed is practical advice. How would you fit this practical advice with Jesus’ advice? (Pray before you make your bed!)
    2. Look at the last line of Matthew 6:33. What are the promised “things?” (For that answer we have to explore the prior context. Let’s do that next.)
  2. An Adequate Life
    1. Read Matthew 6:25. How many readers are anxious about these things? Wouldn’t you have to be very poor to be worried about the basics of eating, drinking, and what to wear? (Most readers are probably not too worried about these things.)
    2. Read Matthew 6:26 and Matthew 6:28-30. What is Jesus’ answer to the worry issue? (God’s love for you. God loves the birds and the flowers, and He loves you. They look great and you will look fine too.)
    3. Read Matthew 6:27. I suspect this gets a lot closer to home for most readers. Do you worry about your life span?
      1. We should worry about our life span by exercising, eating right, wearing seatbelts, and refraining from smoking. What is Jesus talking about? (The key word is “anxious.” Anxiety is needless worry. It does not refer to taking reasonable precautions.)
    4. Read Matthew 6:32-33. Explain what the Gentiles are doing and Jesus’ followers are not? (This is the great divide. Pagans are racing around after food, clothes, and life. God automatically gives these to those who seek first His kingdom.)
      1. Notice that this lesson refers to “covenants,” contracts. Is Jesus offering us a contract? Seek Him first and He takes care of you?
    5. Read Matthew 6:34. How many times have you worried that something bad would happen to you in the future and it never did?
  3. A Prosperous Life
    1. Read Malachi 3:10. What do you think is a “full tithe?” (A tithe is a tenth of something. The suggestion is that the people were inclined to cheat on this 10%.)
      1. What results from paying a “full tithe?” (You are blessed to the point where you need nothing.)
      2. Is this a contract offer? (It is at least that. God says to “test” Him, which is a request to take up His offer.)
    2. Read Malachi 3:11. If you were a farmer, what control would you have over “the devourer?” What control over whether your plants would bear produce? (These seem to be things that are largely out of the control of the farmer. From this I understand God to say that he will keep in control those things over which we have no control.)
    3. Read Malachi 3:12. How will others view your life? (You are blessed. Living your life is a delight.)
      1. Is a personal application a problem since this refers to a nation?
    4. Read Malachi 3:13-14. Are you skeptical of what we just read in Malachi? (These verses are a warning against challenging God’s promise when it comes to tithe-paying.)
    5. Read Malachi 3:15. What is the counterclaim of the doubters? (The arrogant and the evildoers prosper and God does nothing about it.)
      1. Do you think God is condemning the doubters, or is He anticipating criticism of His tithe offer? Or, both?
    6. Read Malachi 3:16-17. Is Malachi off on another topic? Or is this related to the tithe discussion? (This is related. God makes a promise of blessings that might not be fully realized during our lifetime.)
    7. Read Malachi 3:18. Is the tithe promise only realized in heaven? (No! The text says “once more you shall see the distinction between [good and bad people].” Tithe-paying is rewarded here and now.)
    8. Let’s ask some hard questions. We will do a deep dive into this in our next lesson. The temple (and its storehouse) no longer exist. We don’t have the same tribal system in which the Levites are priests and are supported by tithe. And the New Testament says nothing to Gentiles about tithing. In light of this, is tithing still required?
    9. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-9. What principles do you find here about contributing to God’s work? (We don’t find a mandatory number, 10%, instead it says “give” as you have decided in your heart.)
      1. When we were discussing the tithe, what was the part of God’s challenge that most captured your attention? (The blessings.)
      2. Has that changed? (That is still a central element - if you sow sparingly, you reap sparingly. If you sow bountifully, you reap bountifully. If you give to God He promises to bless you!)
    10. Read 2 Corinthians 9:10-11. Step back and consider how you would act on the promises of 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 in light of the statements in Malachi 3. How much would you give? (2 Corinthians 9:7 says that you get to decide, but keep in mind that 10% is God’s historic benchmark. More important, the constant theme is that giving to God costs you nothing. What you give is poured back into your life as blessings. 2 Corinthians 9:11 promises that “you will be enriched in every way” - which will allow you to be more generous.)
    11. Read 2 Corinthians 9:12. What is the focus of our giving? (The needs of the saints and showing gratitude towards God.)
    12. Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-14. What additional point must we consider about living a blessed life? (The question is not just giving money to God’s work, we need to be obedient to His will.)
      1. Let’s revisit the introduction to this lesson. Salvation is a free gift. What is not free, what depends on our actions? (We have seen that God offers a “contract” with us that if we seek first His kingdom, if we are generous financially in supporting His work, if we obey His commandments, He will give us a blessed and abundant life.)
      2. Is this a promise made to every believer? (Hebrews 11 and the story of Job show us that this is a general rule of life, but God’s timing can and will vary until all evil is destroyed.)
    13. Friend, I am proof that being generous with God results in blessings on earth. All my life I have worked for a non-profit to advance a principle of the Kingdom of God. When my wife and I were first married, and very poor, we paid a double-tithe. I’ve always considered 10% to be the minimum benchmark for giving to God. My wife and I are now old and living on a “fixed income,” yet my wife has a special zeal to give money to help advance God’s Kingdom and “the saints.” The Holy Spirit guides her heart on giving, and we stand constantly amazed at God’s continued blessings. Why not decide right now to be generous with God?
  1. Next week: The Tithing Contract.